Clarke County

Former NASCAR driver, son of Zaxby’s founder killed in Athens double shooting

ATHENS, Ga. — Athens-Clarke County police say former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley and his ex-wife Laura were injured in a shooting incident at her home in Athens.

Athens-Clarke County police said they were called to the home in the 200 block of Morton Avenue at 8:45 Saturday night.

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Police said John Townley came to the home where Laura was with 32-year-old Zachary Anderson of Dunwoody.

When John arrived, police said he and Anderson got into a fight over a hatchet. They said at some point during the altercation, Anderson produced a gun and started shooting. John Townley was hit and transported to a nearby hospital where he later died.

Laura Townley was also injured in the shooting and police said she too was transported to the hospital with serious injuries, but she’s expected to survive.


Townley raced for nearly a decade from 2008 to 2016, according to NASCAR.

In 2015, Townley won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

His father, Tony Townley, is a co-founder of the Athens-based fast food chain Zaxby’s, according to the Associated Press.

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The shooting took place just hours after thousands of fans packed Sanford Stadium to watch the University of Georgia Bulldogs beat the Arkansas Razorbacks just over a mile away.

Police are asking anyone who might have seen or has information the incident to contact them at 762-400-7058,